Rickmond Wong has a Web site called “rameniac” devoted to ramen. I knew that there was a lot of variation in this noodle dish and, because of Tampopo, that folks sometimes go pretty deeply into the subject. Mr. Wong has gone way far. This is a fun and informative food site.
At rameniac (note the lower case; there’s lots of lower case where one would expect upper case on the site) I learned a lot about shoyu, shio, tonkatsu, and (yes) even instant. I saw reviews (no holds barred) of ramen products and places (mostly southern-California centric, but with some promise of expanding).
Mr. Wong’s site might be early in development. Although there posts from the fall of 2006, I noticed that Google was still substituting the public-service ads. Still, it’s quite rich with features and content. And wit. For example, the categories in the navigation element are “drooling,” “schooling,” “boiling,” “feeding” (the rss feed), and “shilling” (advertisements).
Because I don’t eat mammal or fowl, I’ll have to work around this dish, but I’m getting some ideas. Mr. Wong has a review of a vegetarian instant ramen; by reading the entry “tokachi nitsu nana ramen: everything goes green,” one can get a hint of his writing:
We all have that one friend who simply makes every dinner outing an imponderable proposition: the vegetarian, or, if the karmic gods are conspiring against you, the vegan. Its a small price to pay for living in a city of Bikram yogi, wellness gurus, and (fine, to use proper English) ridiculously fit birds. My good friend Neil is neither a fit bird nor a Bikram yogist (as far as I know), nor do I actually see him often enough to ponder many a dinner proposition, but he is, in fact a vegetarian, and one who can’t ever seem to get it into his head that vegetarian ramen is like the Loch Ness Monster; it probably exists, but good luck finding it.
So every time Neil asks me where he can get some good “vegetarian ramen,” I find myself at a loss. You can ask to hold the chashu, but pork and chicken bones are the ramen chef’s stock in trade, no pun intended. Rumors abound; sightings of vegetarian-friendly noodles, with nary a trace of meat in the soup, can apparently be had at Mr. Ramen and Takeshi Ramen, but let’s face it. The devil will don a Prada ski jacket before I get around to actually ordering such a thing off a menu.
I’ll test the one that he discussed in this review. Meanwhile, maybe I won’t find anything good in the instant packages, but I might be able to construct my own fish-based stock with noodles. Hmmmm…ideas.
Link to Mr. Wong’s site. I learned of this site because of a story by Russ Parsons, Los Angeles Times published 2 January 2008. Link to Mr. Parson’s He’s the rock star of ramen; it’s worth the ~10 minutes it will require to read.
Update 4 May 08
Selected other coverage of Rameniac:
- Nicolas Gray’s entry for The Grinder, the blog of Chow, and a news entry from Chowhound (where Mr. Wong hangs about);
- Susan Barrier’s notes about some noodle spots in “Driving for Noodles” from Cancer Banter;
- Evan Kleiman’s segment (audio) from a Good Food show 21 July 2007 from KCRW, the Santa Monica College (US, CA) affiliate for NPR;
- Erik Sherman’s entry from Flash in the Pan;
- Eddie Lin’s acknowledgment of Mr. Wong’s recognition, “Soju Wanna B a Rockstar? Start a Food Blog! duh,” from Deep End Dining;
- David Latt’s 20 February 2008 entry, “Ramen at Home, Quick and Easy,” from Men Who Like to Cook;
- Mike Loren Riggs’ post, “Giving ramen its due,” from Riggs Dispatch;
- Weigook Saram’s quick note, “Rameniac,” from Kimchi Mamas;
- Slate even linked to Mr. Parsons’ story.